Rush Touring To Celebrate 40th Anniversary

by Noiz 30. January 2015 10:47

Rush Touring To Celebrate 40th Anniversary

On Jan. 22, Rush made a huge announcement.

The Canadian rock trio, responsible for such hits like “New World Man” and “Tom Sawyer,” is hitting the road to celebrate its 40th anniversary. 

Rush’s Anniversary Date
I think a band’s “anniversary date” is the day they release their first record.  With a few notable exceptions, who cares about an artist before they started releasing music?  In Rush’s case they released their first single in 1973 and their first album in 1974 (Rush formed in 1968).  So why are they celebrating the big 4-0 in 2015?  Well, Neil Peart joined Rush in July of 1974 and the first album with him on board, Fly by Night, dropped in 1975.  As you can see, a band’s anniversary date is not an exact science. 

The upcoming Rush tour will be the 21st of the band’s legendary career.

Their trek, which has been christened “R40 Live Tour,” will visit 34 cities in North America between May 8 and Aug. 1. 

The tour opens in Tulsa and ends in Los Angeles (at The Forum).  Major stops on their itinerary include Dallas, Texas on May 18; Atlanta, Georgia on May 26; Chicago, Illinois on June 12; and Boston, Massachusetts on June 23.

Rush tickets will be collected at Madison Square Garden on June 29.

Final Tour?
The band has not said this is their last tour, but they have said it will be their last big outing.  On their Web site, during a post announcing their upcoming jaunt, they wrote that this is likely to be “their last major tour of this magnitude.”

I like the way the band is handling what could be their last major trek.  They’re not saying it IS their final outing nor are they signing a legal document promising never to tour again (à la Motley Crüe).

They’re just being honest. 

They don’t know what the future has in store for them.  In the coming years, maybe they will play 20, 30, or 40 dates, or maybe they will book nothing but festivals and one-offs.

Of course, they never had to verbalize any intentions to quit.  Whenever a band hits the road to celebrate their 40th anniversary you pretty much assume that if it’s not their last tour it’s close to it.

Rush’s Set List Challenges
One of the challenges Rush will have for their upcoming tour is selecting a set list.   It’s always difficult for a 40-year-old band to pick the songs they’re going to play in concert but now Rush has the added dimension that this may be the last time they ever rock large arenas.

“We’ve already gone through a couple of different set list scenarios. We’ve been doing some editing, dropping some stuff.  We have an idea about how we want to approach it, in terms of the whole show from front to back.  We’re working on these production ideas.”  — Alex Lifeson

>>Should Rush only play their biggest hits?
>>Should Rush include their favorite deep cuts?
>>Should Rush cater their set list to hardcore fans or those of the casual variety?

Those are questions the members of Rush will need to answer before embarking on their anniversary expedition. 

Rush By The Numbers
So, just how daunting of a task is it to select a set list for a 40th anniversary tour?  Let’s look at the numbers…

Rush has released 19 studio albums. 

Combined, those albums contain 165 tracks. 

Keep in mind that I’m counting works like "Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres,” which contains six parts and takes up an entire side of an album, as one song.

They’ve released two singles that haven’t appeared on an album and in 2004 they released an 8-track EP of covers (Feedback).

If you add all that up you get 175 songs.  

A Rush concert generally contains around 20 to 25 songs.

That means at most, Rush will play one-seventh of their catalog.  For every one song Rush includes they have to exclude at least six.

Their 19 studio albums average 8.6 tracks.  The album with the fewest number of tracks is Hemispheres.  It only has four.  Vapor Trails and Snakes & Arrows are tied for the most.  They each have 13.

Vapor Trails is also the band’s longest playing album.  It has a running duration of one hour, seven minutes, and 15 seconds.

If Rush was to hold a concert in which they played their entire catalog it would last nearly 15 and half hours.

Taking the numbers a little further, 175 songs in a 40-year career means a new song every 83 days.  That doesn’t sound like much but look at it this way: 175 songs in 40 years means Rush recorded an average of just under four seconds of music every day.

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5 Ways Motley Crüe Can Escape Their No-Tour Clause

by Noiz 29. January 2015 14:00

5 Ways Motley Crüe Can Escape Their No-Tour Clause

I get it but I don’t get it.

Motley Crüe is currently in the midst of their final tour.  And by “final” I mean for all time, eternity, until the end of mankind.  Their farewell performance is set for Dec. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.  Until then, they have several shows planned for North America. 

Come 2016 and beyond, Motley Crüe will tour no more forever.

To prove they really mean it, the members of Motley Crüe signed a “cessation of touring agreement.”  That’s a legal document stating that if the band does tour after 2015 they could be sued.  By whom and for how much remains to be seen.

Artists have announced finales before only to have toured again—The Who and Cher come to mind.  I understand Crüe’s desire not to be one of those acts.  I appreciate their quest for integrity. 

On the other hand, touring is so lucrative I can’t believe Crüe can realistically say they’re finished with selling concert tickets.  Even though the quartet has been rode hard and put away wet during their notorious career, they still have a few good touring years left. 

Will Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, and Vince Neil be able to say “no” to a tour in 2017 or 2018 when a boatload of money is floated in front of them?

I say no.

If I’m right, the band will need a plan of action for when they break that legally binding document they signed (in front of a lawyer by the way) and hit the road. 

Below, I lay out five ways Motley Crüe can return to touring in 2016 (or beyond) and not have to worry about being sued.

1. Tour Using a Different Name
This is the most obvious and simplest way around their blood oath.  Instead of “Motley Crüe” on the marquee, rename the band “The Crew” or “Lee, Mars, Neil, and Sixx” or “Crue Motley” (I’m just spit balling here). 

To further sell the notion that it’s a different group, the new incarnation can pepper their playlist with covers. 

This will probably happen.  Conventional wisdom says Mick Mars, who might be approaching 64 (it depends on which birthday of his you use), will bow out the next time the band warms up the tour busses.  When that happens the remaining three members won’t want to perform under the name “Motley Crüe.”

2. Tour As A Solo Artist
One member can launch a solo tour and use another as an opening act or backing band member.  Then, lo and behold, at the end of every night they’ll be joined by the other two members for a quick set of Motley Crüe tunes.

This route seems unlikely as three of the four members of Crüe will have to swallow their egos.

The upside to this idea is it will be a lot easier to promote a Vince Neil tour or a Tommy Lee tour then it will be to promote an outing by the band under a new name.   

3. One-Offs
I haven’t read the document, but let’s assume it says “no touring” while not mentioning anything about performing a concert.  Therefore, Motley Crüe can get around their ironclad pledge by performing a series of one-off concerts and booking a number of festival appearances.

4. Motley Crüe The Revue
Instead of Motley Crüe taking the stage and performing a set as a rock band they could bring along a bunch of similar-minded musicians and perform as sort of a hairband revue. 

Something like what Ringo Star does with his All-Starr Band.  Ringo will sing a song or two and then have one of his All-Star band members perform a track.  For example, Motley Crüe rocks "Kickstart My Heart" then Sebastian Bach sings "18 and Life" (again, I’m just spit balling).

This format makes an eclectic and nostalgic night of music but it is a way for Crüe to perform their most popular hits for their fans without actually launching an official “Motley Crüe Tour.”

5. Screw The Document
It’s Motley “f-ing” Crüe.  They are bad boys.  Heck, they’ve literally killed people.  Breaking a signed document that says they’ll never tour again wouldn’t even come close to being the worse thing they’ve ever done.  They can launch a tour and when fans call them out they can just shrug their shoulders and say “That’s rock and roll.”

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Straight No Chaser Is A Legitimate Act That Performs Novelty Music

by Noiz 22. January 2015 13:59

Straight No Chaser Is A Legitimate Act That Performs Novelty Music

If you want to make it big in the music business here’s all you have to do…

First, learn how to make great music.  It’s preferable if you can sing.

Second, you’ll need to adopt a charismatic stage persona and be easy going on the eyes.  For some, that’s easier said than done.

Next, pick a marginalized genre of music to perform like bluegrass, Dixieland, Afro-Beat, or Portuguese fado.

Instead of recording and performing traditional music from your marginalized genre of choice, or original stuff, your setlist should feature nothing but covers of Top 40 hits and popular songs.

Finally, sign a five-album deal with a major record company.

Many have tried to follow the aforementioned plan but few have succeeded.  One act that has is Straight No Chaser. 

The ten men that make up SNC are all great singers, all very handsome, and all extremely charming.  They perform an ostracized genre of music known as “a cappella.”  They sing and record a lot of hit singles, and in 2008 they signed a five-album deal with Atlantic Records.

I don’t know why but music fans love hearing today’s top music performed in some unique way.   You want to fill an auditorium try performing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” in the Klezmer tradition or Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in the style of roots reggae.

Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that but music fans do love them some novelty covers.  By the way, Straight No Chaser covers “Happy.”

In their latest album, Under the Influence (2013), Straight No Chaser tackles “Rolling in the Deep,” “We Are Young,” and “I Won’t Give Up.”  They also cover older songs like “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me,” and “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now).”

When you attend a Straight No Chaser concert you’ll hear those songs and a lot more.  At a concert this past December, the boys did a Four Seasons medley and a mash-up of “Poison” and “Billie Jean.”  They also did a hilarious Broadway parody and crooned a bunch of Christmas carols (which you probably won’t get to enjoy if you see the band this spring).

Now, I keep talking about Straight No Chaser like they’re a novelty act.  You can call them whatever you want, but you must call them successful.  Three of their first four albums have peaked inside the Top 40 on the main Billboard albums chart.   They’ve performed with Paul McCartney, their videos have garnered millions of views on YouTube, and Straight No Chaser tickets have been collected all over the world.  In other words, the band has made it.

Further proof of their ascension to stardom is the fact that Straight No Chaser will be singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” at the upcoming Indianapolis 500 race.

The Indy 500 is one of the most hallowed traditions in sports.  Since 1972 (minus a few exceptions), the honor of singing “Back Home Again in Indiana” belonged to Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle from The Andy Griffith Show).  Well, the actor is now 83 and hanging up his microphone.

SNC was chosen because they’re from The Hoosier State—the band was founded at Indiana University-Bloomington—have a national following, and love the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

"One of the most cherished traditions each year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the singing of '(Back Home Again in) Indiana' and we are pleased that Straight No Chaser will join us next May to perform as we lead up to the start of the 99th Indianapolis 500.” — J. Douglas Boles, president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 is set to take place on May 24, 2015.  Obviously, that’s not the only SNC live performance of 2015.  From late January through the entire month of February, Straight No Chaser will be gallivanting around Europe.  Their “Happy Hour Tour (Europe 2015)” is set to visit over 20 cities including London, Dublin, Hamburg, Berlin, Paris, and Moscow.

The band returns to the States in April.  The first Straight No Chaser concert of the New Year is set for April 1 in Aspen, Colorado.   After five shows in Colorado, the band works its way through the Midwest.  It culminates on April 12 with a performance in Lafayette, Indiana at the Long Center Performing Arts.

On July 23, the band returns to the live stage in Buffalo, New York for a gig at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.  This show was originally scheduled for Nov. 21 but cancelled due to heavy snow.   The following night, SNC begins a three-night stand at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. 

The ten-piece singing troupe is no stranger to the boardwalk.  In 2011 and 2012, they performed a total of 90 shows at Harrah’s Resort and Casino. 

At a Straight No Chaser show you’ll be treated to great music and some corny banter between songs.  The cheeseball stuff works as all the members of SNC have charm to spare.  

I should probably address the elephant in the room: Straight No Chaser is immensely appealing to women especially those of the grandmother and aunt variety.  If you’re a dude reading this don’t panic when you learn that SNC is coming to your town. 

While it’s true that they’re not Led Zeppelin or Motörhead, you’ll still have a good time, score major points with your significant other, and probably become a fan… 

“We often have women who drag their boyfriends or husbands along to the show, and by the end they come through the signing line holding a stack of CDs and they're super excited about seeing the show.” — Randy Stine of Straight No Chaser

Straight No Chaser - At A Glance
>>Group formed on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington in 1996.
>>Band took its name from a Thelonious Monk album.
>>”Straight No Chaser” is also a slang phrase used when ordering a drink.
>>Six of the original ten members are still in the group.
>>The band formed because they love singing and wanted to pick up chicks.
>>Eight members of the band are married, one is engaged, and one is single.
>>It takes the band anywhere from one day to two weeks to arrange a song.

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Why Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan And Fellow Bro-Country Artists Still Reign

by Noiz 20. January 2015 22:22

Why Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan And Fellow Bro-Country Artists Still Reign

The calendar may have changed but country music hasn’t. 

It looks like bro-country will dominate 2015 just like it did in 2014.  At the time of writing this article, six of the top ten country singles are by so-called bro-country artists.  Three others are by men.  The lone female artist is Carrie Underwood.  Interestingly, her single “Something in the Water,” is the top song.

Billboard’s top country albums chart is also ruled by bro-country boys and once again Underwood is the only artist from the fairer sex.  Bro-country artists that landed inside the top ten are Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Eric Church, and Brantley Gilbert. 

2014
In 2014, Bro-country artist Eric Church’s Outsiders sold more than 700,000 copies making it the bestselling country album of the year and fourth overall.  His bro-country brethren Luke Bryan came in at number seven while Brantley Gilbert captured the eighth spot.

With Taylor Swift going completely pop, country music now has fewer women than a Magic: The Gathering tournament.  Basically, country music is a testosterone-filled, Y chromosome-having, foul-smelling tree fort with a huge sign on the door that reads “No Girls Allowed.”

What Is Bro-Country?
Bro-country is a subgenre of country music that uses elements of rock and hip hop music.  A lot of bro-country songs are about trucks, drinking, and hot women in bikini tops. 

Prime Examples of Bro-Country
>>“Cruise” by Florida Georgie Line
>>"That's My Kind of Night" by Luke Bryan
>>"Boys 'Round Here" by Blake Shelton
>>“Talladega” by Eric Church
>>"Dirt Road Anthem" by Jason Aldean

Not every bro-country artist sings about beer, pickup trucks, and the honeys all the time, but those three topics do frequently serve as inspiration.

There’s a group of artists that are bro-country adjacent—Kenny Chesney and Brad Paisley being two such examples.  Also, you can be a dude, sing country music, and not be a bro-country artist (i.e. Garth Brooks), but all bro-country artists are men.

Criticism
Many take umbrage with bro-country’s portrayal of women.  They are usually described as being scantily clad and swilling beer while sitting on a tailgate.  Bro-country artists never call a paramour a “ho” or a “bitch” but they seldom ever comment on their SAT scores or personalities.

At least one woman, country music star Kacey Musgraves, is more offended by bro-country’s penchant for pickup trucks then about their proclivity for women in bikini tops.  She famously told British GQ: “Anyone singing about trucks, in any form, in any song, anywhere.  Literally just stop – nobody cares.”

“I don’t know one girl who doesn’t want to be a girl in a country song,” – Brian Kelly of Florida Georgia Line

Where Have All The Women Gone?
There are two issues at play here.  One is serious and the other is more on the trivial side.  On the trivial side is bro-country’s popularity.  Country music fans will eventually move on to something else.  In an article by Calvin Gilbert recently published on CMT.com, he brings up the concept of “the pendulum.”  He writes that “the pendulum” has always swung within the country music genre from its conservative core to whatever fad (usually one that’s too pop or too rock) is popular at the time.

The more serious issue is the lack of female artists within the country music industry.  Why aren’t their more women making it big in Nashville?  As I enumerated above, the genre seems to be abnormally dominated by cowboys.

Glam
One reason given for the disparity is glamour.  Men can just put on a t-shirt and go to a gig whereas women are expected to look glamorous.  In trying to explain the glam phenomenon, Luke Bryan said: “Some girls on radio tours, it will take them two hours to get all dolled up to do three songs for a radio guy.  They do two hours worth of glam.  I mean, It’s tough, you know?”

That seems a little simple, and it certainly hasn’t stopped Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, but all male singers have to do to look presentable is throw on a t-shirt and an old pair of jeans.

Money, Money, Money
Clearly, bro-country sells.  Since it’s so popular the country music industry is going to continue to nurture bro-country artists.  If music by one-armed, red-headed dwarves was selling like hotcakes then Nashville would be singing every one-armed, red-headed dwarf they could find to a record contract. 

Remember what Blake Shelton said in early 2013:

“Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music.  And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass.  The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.”

Shelton angered a lot of country music fans with his comments but he’s right.  It’s all about what sells, and right now, what sells is bro-country.  Fans want to hear music from a male perspective.

Testosterone
I think another reason why bro-country is so popular is because it’s one of the last bastions of traditional masculinity.  We live in a very feminine world.   Men get manicures, have bro-mances, and drive hybrid cars.  Bro-country music, as well as a Jason Aldean concert for example, allows both sexes a chance to relish men who drink beer (not appletinis), drive pickup trucks (not electric cars) and work with their hands (not on a computer).

Not that there’s anything wrong with being sensitive—I, for one, love getting a manicure—but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that men used to be a bit more rugged.   My grandfather built his own home.  My father remodeled his.  I don’t even own a saw.

Sexism
Not even the most ardent bro-country artist wants fewer opportunities for women than men in the music industry.  No one on either side of the bro-country equation is fighting against equality, but there’s obviously a disparity. 

With that being said, the Frozen soundtrack, Beyoncé’s self-titled album, and Lorde’s Pure Heroine were the top selling albums of 2014.  Carrie Underwood is more popular than any bro-country artist.  And women buy more music then men.

Also, I hate to break it to the naysayers but Church can’t have the bestselling country album of the year without women buying a lot of copies.  Women make up a huge portion of the bro-country audience.  If you don’t believe me just check out a Luke Bryan concert or a Blake Shelton tour stop. 

Country Now & Then
If you look at what bro-country artists are singing about it’s really no different than what other country artists sang about in previous decades.  They might be a little more explicit than they were in earlier eras, but drinking, trucks, and hot women have been fodder for country musicians for generations.

Past Bro-Country-esque Songs
>>1951 - Hank Williams releases “Hey, Good Lookin’” 
>>1959 - George Jones releases “White Lightning”
>>1969 - Tom T. Hall releases “A Week in a Country Jail”
>>1975 - C.W. McCall releases “Convoy.”
>>1984 – Hank Williams, Jr. releases "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight"
>>1987 – George Strait releases “All My Ex’s Live in Texas.”
>>1992 – Brooks & Dunn release "Boot Scootin' Boogie"
>>2001 – Garth Brooks and George Jones release "Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)"

Complaining about bro-country is a little like saying there’s too much football in the Super Bowl and they need to add some basketball.  Bro-country artists are catching flack because our world is more sensitive and feminine then it was when Jerry Reed sang “East Bound & Down.”

Bro-country is country music.   And country music needs more women.  But bro-country isn’t a sign of a dude-apocalypse, and even though the charts are lacking in estrogen, women aren’t exactly invisible when it comes to the music industry.

Ultimately, we should heed the words of Eric Church: “I think genres are dead.  There’s good music.  There’s bad music.”   

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